peacetraveler22: (Default)
I don't know how foreigners perceive the "typical American woman." However, three times this week, I have been called this.

Stereotypes - they are very damaging in many cases, and must be quashed. We are all influenced by stereotypes on some level, but I really try to erase them from memory when traveling, forming impressions based only on pure experience. Most recently, I can say it about Georgia - where everyone warned me about all kinds of things, when in reality I encountered almost none of the horrors mentioned. In the end, we are responsible for the company we keep. You have the choice to surround yourself with good, positive and uplifting...or, you can run wild with the animals in the zoo.

Most people using this phrase - "typical American woman" have never even met, or had any real experience with an American woman. Therein lies the problem...that is all I really want to say for today. :)
peacetraveler22: (Default)
3123877

It's very amusing to hear impressions and stereotypes about Georgia from my Russian readers. Unfortunately, I don't think I have many native Georgians reading this blog. I will be there in two weeks, and will spend several days in Tbilisi at the beginning and end of the journey. Please send me a message if you are there, and have time to meet for coffee or a quick chat.

In the meantime, I can't fully grasp current relations between Georgia and Russia, despite having read a lot of articles on this topic recently.  The most common stereotypes about Georgians repeated to me by Russian readers:

(1) Georgians are very, very lazy - especially Georgian men;
(2) most mafia in Soviet times were Georgians - yes, constant warnings about the Georgian mafia! :));
(3) they are hot-blooded Southerners, loud, animated; and
(4) continual comments about the wild men of the Caucasus'!


In fact, I think there is quite a long history of Russian females being attracted and drawn to men from the Caucasus, though I don't know the precise reasons why. The most amusing comment in my recent post about celibacy came when a reader wrote - "Думаешь горячие кавказские парни ее разморозят?" Well, I am not a piece of meat that needs to be dethawed! :))  Anyone who immediately attempts to do so will likely fail, and it does not matter if he is from the Caucasus or right here in Washington, DC.

The route is already planned, and I'll journey through the country with a native Georgian, spending most of my time in village areas. I think outside of a few larger cities, the whole country is a big village! :) If you have suggestions on places to visit, things to see, please write in comments. Thanks and pleasant week to all!
peacetraveler22: (Default)
dead
When you sit in traffic for almost two hours each morning on the way to work, you notice a lot of different bumper stickers and personalized license plates on the cars of your fellow commuters. This morning, a car passed me with this sticker plastered on the bumper and another one that read "I SELL THE AMERICAN DREAM." I couldn't find a stock photo of a bumper sticker with this slogan, and I've never seen it before. I can't understand what the expression "I SELL THE AMERICAN DREAM" means?

What is the "American dream"? I don't even know, because life dreams vary depending on the personality and ambition of each individual. We can't say that the American dream is one specific thing, although the stereotypical formula is (1) work hard; (2); earn a decent living; (3) marriage + children; (4) home ownership = the "dream." Yesterday, I read a post in the LJ immigrant community, which focused on the proposition that a green card does not bring happiness. The post is here. When the diversity lottery opens each year, a lot of posts on this topic and immigration into America get published. The lottery opened on 1 October and will run until 3 November. With the exception of marrying an American, the diversity lottery is 100% the easiest pathway to U.S. citizenship if you're selected, though the chances are very, very slim. Good luck to those readers who will apply. However, it's necessary to remind everyone about the expression on the next popular bumper sticker:
Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
tourists

Over the weekend, I was sitting at my apartment pool, relaxing in the hot sun when I was disturbed by very loud voices. Immediately I could tell that it was some of the Russian residents living in my building. For me, it's easy to spot Russians in the crowd, perhaps because I spend so much time communicating with them in my personal life and in this blog. They most often talk in a very loud tone, which sounds aggressive to my English trained ears. Why is this? This is not only at my apartment, but also a perception based on numerous personal encounters with Russians in the USA, on airplanes and throughout Russia. It's not an insult, just an observation. :) The topic of the conversation can be extremely friendly, with a loved one or friend, yet still sound like an argument to me because I barely understand any Russian words when they are spoken by natives.

Other signs that the person at my pool is Russian - older women almost always wear bikinis, despite their physical shape or appearance. Very old, overweight females stuff themselves into these types of bathing suits, and it's fine. About someone else's appearance, I have no opinion or say, and if they're comfortable in this type of clothing, more power to these ladies! :) However, it's not so common for old women in the States to wear bikinis, I very rarely see it. Similarly, Russian and European men at my pool almost always wear Speedos, or tightly constricted swimming trunks. It doesn't matter that they have huge bellies, I suppose it's just a cultural difference in swimwear attire. Something like this...Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
compliment

We all love compliments! But I've noticed something unique about the Russian blogosphere, where compliments aren't always what they seem. If you look at the TOP on a daily basis, you'll see a lot of posts full of trash, bloggers criticizing other women's appearance, lifestyle choices, bodies...the list is endless. Yes, sometimes they mention that the woman is "beautiful," but then they go on to highlight numerous flaws about the person. Even when people try to be pleasant, they often slip into "critique" mode, by throwing in an undercover insult in the process. Some examples I've noticed recently:

"You're pretty nice, for a Jew."
"You're smart, despite the fact that you're American."
"You have a beautiful face, but need to lose weight."


Compliments...Russian style. :)) Of course, people all over the world are engaged in this behavior. So, today I'll teach you the English word for this - "backhanded compliment." Maybe you already know this slang phrase, but sometimes foreigners don't learn them until they're actually living in the culture in which the phrase originates. For instance, I've taught my Russian friend the following slang words - "beaver," "joint," "Mary Jane," "midget,"...others that I can't think of right now. Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
office

About five years ago, a hot Ukrainian lifeguard started working at my apartment pool. I was in my mid-30's at the time, and he was only 18. Yet one day he swam up to me, flashed his charming smile, and we chatted for a very long time. I think he had absolutely no clue how old I was, but it didn't really matter. We instantly had great and deep conversations, about a wide range of topics, and remain close friends to this day.

I remember vividly something he told me about his lifeguard training before he arrived to the USA to participate in the work/travel program. The instructors informed the male lifeguards that American women are different, that sexual harassment laws in the U.S. are strict, and that a man can easily be convicted for flirtatious advances that would be considered ordinary and acceptable in other cultures. I don't know where all this paranoia comes from, but I want to explain briefly how sexual harassment laws work in America. Because the instructors were totally wrong. The most important lesson for the day - don't be afraid to talk to an American woman, compliment her, flirt with her, or ask her out....trust me, you will not be jailed for such actions. :))Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
liquor

To understand alcohol laws, taxes and sales in America is almost impossible. Laws and regulations vary by State, and in Virginia we're taxed at the third highest rate in the country. Liquor can only be bought in State controlled liquor stores, not in grocery or convenience stores. In Pennsylvania, you can't even buy beer at your local market, and there's a limit on the number of packs you can purchase during a single visit. The strictest laws of the nation exist in this area. In the South, there are still several "dry" counties, where all alcohol is prohibited. All of this in the decadent, spirtualless West! :) During a Friday night visit to the liquor store, I came across these two bottles, sitting beside each other on the shelf. I wonder which is tastier? There are a lot of Russian vodkas for sale in U.S. liquor stores, but we tend to like flavored vodkas more than the plain stuff. In general, attitudes and laws toward alcohol vary greatly between our nations.
Read more... )



peacetraveler22: (Default)
Russians are master conspiracy theorists! At least some of them. They deserve big trophies and shiny prizes for the creative and imaginary stories they weave in their minds, particularly when the fairy tale involves an American (like me). Very amusing when other people dedicate posts entirely about me. However, this woman claims to have lived in the USA, so I value her impressions about America, even if I disagree with them. I do wish the State Dept. paid me to write here! It would help finance more personal visits to Russia, for further espionage and information gathering. :) Btw, who wants to give me English lessons? Seems a lot of Russians think they speak the language better than me, a 41 year old American woman. Grab the popcorn, read the comments to both posts, and be amazed at the lunacy of some of your compatriots! :))

For your reading pleasure:


Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] klava_17 at ЖЖежешная Псаки
Есть тут в ЖЖ такая Шеннон [livejournal.com profile] peacetraveler22, работает адвокатом в большой юридической конторе в пригороде амерканской столицы. И пришла ей в голову блажь ( а может и не блажь:) начать наводить мосты с Россией. По русски она не пишет, но вроде как понимает немного, видимо понахваталась русских слов когда по России путешествовала. Читатателей у нее хватает, в журнале много комментариев, на которые она старается отвечать.
Пишет хорошо, грамотно, но немного нудно. Я пыталась почитать ее журнал, но осилила только постов 5 наверно. Скучно стало. Написала ей несколько комментариев, она мне ответила почти на все. И что интересно, все ее ответы были в стиле Псаки. Мне даже на минутку показалось, что это Псаки отвечала:) Хотя там и фото этой Шеннон висит, симпатичная такая, молодая. Но и Псаки тоже ведь ничего себе так:)
Короче, я поняла что Шеннон хочет наводить мосты, хочет сотрудничать и дружить, но только на ее условиях. Почему на ее? А потому что она  права, за ней - правда, она знает истину в последней инстанции. Она же американка! Причем говорит, что хочет понять, искренне хочет разобраться и так же искренне не понимает, как это с ней не соглашаются и как можно ей возражать. Ну что тут сказать? Псаки такая Псака...

peacetraveler22: (bear)
russian-people-are-aliens

I woke up this morning on the wrong side of bed, in an incredibly bad mood. Everyone in my family is ill with the flu and my sister and her husband both recently hospitalized for unexpected sickness. Then I got to work and opened my favorite mindless website to see an article about my beloved Russians. Immediate smiles and laughter! The article is entitled "16 Things Russians Do That Americans Might Find Weird." You can view the original article here and copyright credit for most of the content below belongs to BuzzFeed. We've already discussed many of these behaviors in various posts, and some of them I've personally witnessed but not all. Let's take a look at some Russian behaviors that are odd to Americans.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (bear)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] ljfun at Почему русские не улыбаются?
Известный лингвист раскрыл тайны знаменитой русской неулыбчивости.


Here's an interesting discussion about why Russians don't smile. The cold, gloomy faces are immediately noticeable to any foreigner traveling in the country. I'm not the first to make this observation and understand it's merely a cultural distinction between Russia and many Western countries. However, I don't agree with the statement here that Westerners are "taught" to smile at everyone and if a Russian smiles it's because he really wants to. In other words, there's an implication that all American or Western smiles are artificial and meaningless. It's not the case. We're not indoctrinated in youth to smile at people. We smile because we're happy. Because we wish to acknowledge another's presence on the street, in the store, on the metro or other public areas, rather than just push past them like they don't exist. If I'm in a bad mood, I don't walk around with a smile on my face or engage in conversations with strangers. There's no forced habit to make my mouth point upward.

Do you like being greeted by rude waiters and others in the service sector who simply look at you when they come to your table? Or, those who stare at you and say nothing when you go through their check-out line in a grocery store or at the post office? I can never get used to it, sorry. What follows next is the original text:
Read more... )

peacetraveler22: (Default)
russian

In general, I'm always amazed how often bloggers discuss women on LJ! Everything about them - appearance, age, mentality - dissecting every single component of their being. So many amusing comments in this recent post comparing German and Russian women. And where are all the stories analyzing men, their looks and their behaviors? I rarely see them. Today for the English speakers, I'll share an interesting discussion about Russian and American men.

I know a lot of Russian men, but I've never dated one. Could I? I guess it's possible, but he would have to be progressive with modern views about women and their roles in relationships. In general, I don't consider someone's ethnicity in the dating equation. Each person is an individual, with their own unique traits. I've dated Americans, Eastern Europeans (Slovak and Ukrainian) and two Jewish guys. The most important factor is finding someone with a similar mentality who shares my passions and life goals. Maybe he's Russian, maybe he's American, maybe he's African? I don't know because I haven't found any man who keeps me stimulated on the level I wish long-term.

Recently someone sent me a link to an article entitled "I Love (and Hate) Dating Russian Men." You can read the full text here. The author is a young Russian woman who grew up in St. Petersburg, moved to New York and is now back in Russia teaching English. She has dated both American and Russian men, and her observations on the differences are highly amusing. The article is very long, so I'll summarize the main points and offer my input on American men. Female readers, your input about Russian men is very important. :) Reveal the truth, because some of the observations made by this Russian woman are disturbing!Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
Obama-vs-Putin

Someone recently sent me this meme and it makes complete sense to me. It highlights one of the main stereotypes of Russians - that they're cold and emotionless. In my first Russian post, I essentially said the same thing after observing average Russians on the street. I've watched many speeches by Putin and it's true that his expression rarely changes. I spent New Year's Eve last year with Russian speakers, watching Russian holiday programs and Putin's New Year's speech to the nation. It was completely bizarre that on a festive occasion he displayed no smile or enthusiasm, standing there like a robot reading off a teleprompter. In contrast, Obama is perhaps one of our most emotional Presidents. He's stern when necessary but also shows signs of emotion, crying or laughing in speeches as the subject dictates. He's often photographed playing with his kids, going on dates with his wife, or drinking a beer. I like it. It makes him human and people easily relate to him. It has nothing to do with the politics of our respective nations and leaders, but rather to personalities and the way we interact with one another.

One of the main purposes of  my blog is to help bridge the gap between Russians and Americans, to help us better understand one another and our cultures. So this weekend let's have an honest and open discussion about stereotypes.Read more... )

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